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Dr. Evan Gora

Forest Ecologist | PhD, University of Louisville

forest ecology, lightning, plant death, decomposition

External site: | Profile (pdf)

Other affiliations: Earl S. Tupper Fellow, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Ancón, Republic of Panamá

Twitter: @GoraEvan

845 677-7600 x237

Evan Gora is a forest ecologist investigating the causes and consequences of plant death. Plants play crucial roles in global biodiversity and nutrient cycling. However, plant mortality rates are shifting with climate change and putting these key functions at risk. Evan’s work aims to understand when, where, and why plants die in nature, and then measure the implications of their deaths for forest ecosystems. His research helps us understand the current stressors affecting forests and begin to predict how forests will change in the future.  

Evan takes a bottom-up approach to understand how plant death influences ecosystem processes. He studies local patterns and processes of plant death, and then uses “big data” such as plot networks and satellite sensors to scale these findings to the landscape and beyond. Much of this research focuses on the effects of a rarely studied phenomenon – lightning – and the drivers of mortality for the largest and oldest trees in forest ecosystems. This research is key to understanding how agents of mortality are reshaping the composition of our forests and their capacity to store carbon.

After plants die, they decompose with major implications for the global carbon budget. Evan explores how environmental conditions, biogeochemistry, and decomposer community assembly influence decomposition. This work has also expanded into research describing the vertical dimension of microbial diversity and function that extends from the forest floor to the canopy.  Studies of decomposition are essential to understanding forest nutrient cycling and its response to global change.

Delavaux, CS, TW Crowther, JD Bever, P Weigelt, and Evan M. Gora. (2024 FEB 28AD) 2024. “Mutualisms Weaken The Latitudinal Diversity Gradient Among Oceanic Islands”. Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-024-07110-y.
Gora, Evan M., SA Schnitzer, PM Bitzer, JC Burchfield, C Gutierrez, and SP Yanoviak. (JUN) 2023. “Lianas Increase Lightning-Caused Disturbance Severity In A Tropical Forest”. New Phytologist 238 (5): 1865-1875, . doi:10.1111/nph.18856.
Richards, Jeannine H., Evan M. Gora, Cesar Gutierrez, Jeffrey C. Burchfield, Philip M. Bitzer, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2022. “Tropical Tree Species Differ In Damage And Mortality From Lightning”. Nature Plants 8 (9). Springer Science and Business Media LLC: 1007-1013. doi:10.1038/s41477-022-01230-x.
Gora, Evan M., and Adriane Esquivel-Muelbert. 2021. “Implications Of Size-Dependent Tree Mortality For Tropical Forest Carbon Dynamics”. Nature Plants 7: 384–391. doi:10.1038/s41477-021-00879-0.
Gora, Evan M., Phillip M. Bitzer, Jeffrey C. Burchfield, Cesar Gutierrez, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2021. “The Contributions Of Lightning To Biomass Turnover, Gap Formation And Plant Mortality In A Tropical Forest”. Ecology 102 (12). Wiley. doi:10.1002/ecy.3541.
Gora, Evan M., Jeffrey C. Burchfield, Helene C. Muller-Landau, Phillip M. Bitzer, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2020. “Pantropical Geography Of Lightning-Caused Disturbance And Its Implications For Tropical Forests”. Global Change Biology 26: 5017– 5026. doi:10.1111/gcb.15227.
Gora, Evan M., Helene Muller-Landau, Jeffrey C. Burchfield, Phillip M. Bitzer, S P Hubbell, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2020. “A Mechanistic And Empirically-Supported Lightning Risk Model For Forest Trees”. Journal Of Ecology 108: 1956– 1966.
Gora, Evan M., and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2020. “Lightning-Caused Disturbance In The Peruvian Amazon”. Biotropica 52: 813-817. doi:10.1111/btp.12826.
Parlato, BP, Evan M. Gora, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2020. “Lightning Damage Facilitates Beetle Colonization Of Tropical Trees”. Annals Of The Entomological Society Of America 113: 447–451. doi:10.1093/aesa/saaa015.
Yanoviak, Stephen P., Evan M. Gora, Phillip M. Bitzer, Jeffrey C. Burchfield, H C Muller-Landau, M. Detto, S Paton, and S P Hubbell. 2020. “Lightning Is A Major Cause Of Large Tropical Tree Mortality In A Lowland Neotropical Forest”. New Phytologist 225: 1936-1944. doi:10.1111/nph.16260.
Adams, Benjamin J., Evan M. Gora, Michiel van Breugel, Sergio Estrada-Villegas, Stefan A. Schnitzer, Jefferson S. Hall, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2019. “Do Lianas Shape Ant Communities In An Early Successional Tropical Forest?”. Biotropica 51: 885-893. doi:10.1111/btp.12709.
Gora, Evan M., Riley C Kneale, Markku Larjavaara, and H C Muller-Landau. 2019. “Dead Wood Necromass In A Moist Tropical Forest: Stocks, Fluxes, And Spatiotemporal Variability”. Ecosystems 22: 1189-1205.
Gora, Evan M., and Jane M. Lucas. 2019. “Dispersal And Nutrient Limitations Of Decomposition Above The Forest Floor: Evidence From Experimental Manipulations Of Epiphytes And Macronutrients”. Functional Ecology 33. Wiley Online Library: 2417-2429. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.13440.
Gora, Evan M., Jane M. Lucas, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2019. “Microbial Composition And Wood Decomposition Rates Vary With Microclimate From The Ground To The Canopy In A Tropical Forest”. Ecosystems 22: 1206-1219.
Lucas, Jane M., Evan M. Gora, Annika Salzberg, and Michael Kaspari. 2019. “Antibiotics As Chemical Warfare Across Multiple Taxonomic Domains And Trophic Levels In Brown Food Webs”. Proceedings Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286: 20191536. doi:doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.1536.
Gora, Evan M., Emma J. Sayer, Benjamin L. Turner, and Edmund V. J. Tanner. 2018. “Decomposition Of Coarse Woody Debris In A Long‐Term Litter Manipulation Experiment: A Focus On Nutrient Availability”. Functional Ecology 32. Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111): 1128-1138. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.13047.
Gripshover, Noah D., Stephen P. Yanoviak, and Evan M. Gora. 2018. “A Functional Comparison Of Swimming Behavior In Two Temperate Forest Ants (Camponotus Pennsylvanicus And Formica Subsericea) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)”. Annals Of The Entomological Society Of America 111: 319-325. doi:10.1093/aesa/say026.
Gora, Evan M., Phillip M. Bitzer, Jeffrey C. Burchfield, Stefan A. Schnitzer, and Stephen P. Yanoviak. 2017. “Effects Of Lightning On Trees: A Predictive Model Based On In Situ Electrical Resistivity”. Ecology And Evolution 7. Wiley-Blackwell: 8523-8534. doi:10.1002/ece3.3347.
Lucas, Jane M., Evan M. Gora, and Alfonso Alonso. 2017. “A View Of The Global Conservation Job Market And How To Succeed In It”. Conservation Biology 31: 1223-1231. doi:10.1111/cobi.12949.
Yanoviak, Stephen P., Evan M. Gora, Jeffrey M. Burchfield, Phillip M. Bitzer, and Matteo Detto. 2017. “Quantification And Identification Of Lightning Damage In Tropical Forests”. Ecology And Evolution 7. Wiley-Blackwell: 5111-5122. doi:10.1002/ece3.3095.

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